Review of Behavioral Economics > Vol 5 > Issue 1

Gender, Expectations, and the Price of Giving

Mary L. Rigdon, Rutgers University, Center for Cognitive Science, USA, , Adam Seth Levine, Cornell University, USA,
Suggested Citation
Mary L. Rigdon and Adam Seth Levine (2018), "Gender, Expectations, and the Price of Giving", Review of Behavioral Economics: Vol. 5: No. 1, pp 39-59.

Publication Date: 26 Mar 2018
© 2018 M. L. Rigdon and A. S. Levine
Behavioral Decision Making,  Experimental Economics,  Behavioral Economics
JEL Codes: C91D64D91J16
AltruismPrice of givingGender differencesExpectationsExperimental economics


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In this article:
1. Introduction 
2. Modified Dictator Game 
3. Experimental Design and Procedures 
4. Results 
5. Conclusions 


A central question in the study of altruism has been whether there is a systematic gender difference in giving behavior. Many experiments, using a modified version of the dictator game, have revealed an interesting pattern: male subjects are more altruistic when the price of giving is low and female subjects are more altruistic when the price of giving is high. In the modified dictator game, however, a key variable in a person’s decision to give is what that person expects to receive. Systematic differences in those expectations may contribute to systematic differences in altruistic behavior. We show that gender differences in these expectations are, indeed, part of the larger story in exploring gender differences in altruistic giving. When expectations of receiving are endogenous, we replicate the standard finding. When expectations of receiving are uniform rather than endogenous, gender differences in price sensitivity disappear: male and female dictators give equal amounts regardless of the relative price of giving. This suggests that gender differences in expectations about others’ giving are part of the larger pattern of giving behavior.